891.00/11–2345: Telegram

The Ambassador in Iran ( Murray ) to the Secretary of State

982. I have called on Yakubov Soviet Chargé who has assured me Embassy request for travel passes for Major Garver by plane and Capt Gagarine by car to Tabriz and return has been transmitted to Soviet Commander at Qazvin for action which latter may not be able to decide before referring matter to higher military authority. Despite his statement that present is “inopportune time” for travel in Azerbaijan, Yakubov insists that “complete calm” reigns throughout area notwithstanding “lies” in Tehran press to contrary.

In discussing “democratic elements” in Azerbaijan, Yakubov stated their action has been orderly and not unlawful and violent as commonly reported. I took pains to stress mere dubbing some group or process as “democratic” does not ipso facto vest it with democratic [Page 446] character and added that growth of true democracy is long process from within which cannot be accelerated by force from without. Yakubov holds that present upsurge in “democracy” in Soviet-occupied northern Iran represents true democratic development upon which I pointed out that democratic thought in Iran is not monopoly of Azerbaijan and that it is most unusual that “democratic processes” of past several months in that area are not accompanied by similar trends in other parts of Iran. When I stated that true democracies are always interested in trends toward democracy in other countries, Yakubov asserted that any “democratic process” in Iran is matter concerning Iran Govt and subjects only.

He contends that 98% Iranian people regard Soviet Union as good neighbor and that remaining 2% are reactionaries and persons under influences hostile to Soviet Union. According to Yakubov basis of Soviet policy toward Iran is spirit of friendship and desire to foster well-being of Iran which motivated Soviet-Iranian treaty of 1921 and this basis has continued unmodified throughout intervening years and has guided Soviet Union in all subsequent treaties and relations with Iran.

I mentioned to Yakubov widespread interest in United States in Iran and its well-being and reiterated to him my previous statement to Ambassador Maximov that I stand prepared at all times to work with any and all of my colleagues towards promoting common wealth of Iran. Yakubov assured me that best interests Iran are constant aim Soviet Union.

Toward end of interview I inquired whether he could enlighten me with reasons for Soviet refusal to permit Iranian public security forces (specifically army column halted at Qazvin) move within Soviet-occupied Iran against which Yakubov at first parried with statement Soviet Union has not interfered with public security of Iran. Later lie stated that column at Qazvin has not been refused permission to proceed adding that Iranians have applied for permission to proceed through and beyond Qazvin and application is being studied by Russians “in accordance with procedure stipulated in Tripartite Treaty which procedure governs movement all Iranian public security forces in northern area” (of which stipulation I have no knowledge). I invited to his attention [article] 4 (1) of Tripartite Treaty which provides that British and Russian military forces in Iran will disturb as little as possible security forces of Iran. Yakubov then asserted that Soviet authorities have interfered at no time with movement Iranian public security forces upon which I recited earlier instances in which attempted movements of army and gendarmerie forces have been thwarted by Russians. He modified his assertion by statement that since arrival of gendarmes in any northern area is always accompanied [Page 447] by “widespread unrest”, it has been necessary in some instances to prevent movement of gendarmes. When asked why movements of gendarmes in southern areas Iran do not cause unrest, Yakubov replied that he knows nothing about the southern areas.

Yakubov took pains to sum up our interview with following points: (1) Movement of Iranian Armed Forces in northern area is matter for concern of these armed forces and Red Army only (2) “democratic movement” in north is matter for concern of Iran Govt only. (3) Soviet Govt has no interest in Iran that is not for common good of country and people.

Throughout our interview Yakubov showed no inclination to discuss the points at hand. Instead his conduct and utterances were those of bureaucrat or party underling concealing himself being [beneath?] dialectic and mouthing of “party line”. It is of obvious significance that Soviet Union should have withdrawn its Ambassador from Iran at such a critical time (which action is, however not with [without?] precedent in Soviet diplomacy such for instance as the withdrawal of its Ambassadors from Washington and London during critical period 2 years ago)54 thereby leaving Iran Govt and foreign diplomatic representatives without any Soviet representative of stature to whom they may address themselves.

Sent Dept as 982; repeated Moscow as 284, London as 91.

  1. See memorandum of April 24, 1943, by Under Secretary Welles; telegram 275, to Moscow, May 1; memorandum of May 7, by Welles; and telegram 1098, from Moscow, August 16; Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, pp. 516, 519, 522, and 564, respectively. See also ibid., p. 564, footnote 63.